Q. You recently posted an article about job changing and how even frequent job changes can improve your value as a job candidate. But what if you have been in a job long-term and now are changing jobs for the first time? I’ve been a secretary to the owner of one company for 12 years. He is retiring and the company is closing, but I still need a job. What can I do to make myself attractive to employers instead of looking like a stick-in-the-mud?
A. Spending a long time at one company does not necessarily mean that you spend that time in the same job; plenty of people move up or laterally in the same company acquiring new skills and experience. In your case, you not only stayed with the same company, but you also stayed in the same position. You may not have acquired the advantages of job changing, but did you really stagnate?
Over the course of 12 years, you probably took on responsibilities, made contacts, and learned programs and processes quite different from those at the start of your career. Employees who spend years in one position and are changing jobs for the first time have a tendency to forget how much they have learned and achieved. You need to:
- Compare your skills and responsibilities when you joined the company to those you have today. Have you learned new software programs? Are you more confident in speaking to management or to staff? Have you taken on additional responsibilities that the owner of the company transferred to you?
- Compare the company you joined to the company you are working for today. Are there more employees and locations or greater revenue? Are there more vendors or customers? Has the product line changed?
- Think back to a challenge you faced in your job and how you met that challenge. Did you change a process or procedure? Did you improve efficiency or communication?
- Take note of any rewards or special projects you were given. Did your boss, a customer, or a vendor thank you? Why? Did you contribute to the website or company newsletter? Were you asked to attend a conference or lead an effort (for example, changing your internet provider)?
- Review the contacts you have made at and through work. Are they willing to recommend you on LinkedIn or provide a testimonial? Can they serve as a network to help you find a new job—perhaps in the companies they have moved to?
One thing I strongly encourage: in your next job, keep a “brag book.” This book will be your resource for remembering achievements before they disappear from memory over time. If you need help assessing your career and creating a resume that does justice to your years of experience, please contact me.